Nutshell Playhouse, Inc., founded in 2007, is a non-profit (501-c- 3) Theater Company dedicated to bringing innovative and exciting live theater and music to family audiences throughout the Berkshires and surrounding communities.
Our Vision is to make the communal art of live theater available directly to the families of Western Massachusetts by staging performances at venues that are familiar and comfortable, places where a diverse group of community members might typically go—libraries, community centers, and schools. We will go any place to create, produce and perform innovative, exciting, meaningful and memorable theater and music for young audiences and families.
Our mission is to create theater and music for children and families that actively engages them in the magic of live performance. In a time when video games have seemingly replaced the worlds created by the spark of imaginative play, Nutshell Playhouse invites the young people in our surrounding communities to tap their imaginations and to enter a world of fantasy, a place where the regular laws of nature are suspended and where anything can happen. It is at this junction between the real and imagined that our ensemble seeks to take the audience in each performance.
Our Value is to make every element of a performance flow together as one, to create an alluring fantastical environment that asks the mind to imagine “what if?” It is in this place where learning and discovery begin, and where the creative minds of young people come alive, awakening the artist within.
Over the last eight years we have produced and performed a number of original works . Our productions, The Mighty Mysterious Megapuff, The Musical Hat, Mambo and Nemonee’s Worldwide Adventure, Pirates! and Nutshellapalooza have been performed in theaters throughout the Berkshires, including The Berkshire Athenaeum, Barrington Stage Company, the Lichtenstein Center, the Guthrie Center, Berkshire South Community Center, and the Clark Art Institute. The company has appeared on local television and radio, and produced two CD’s of original children’s songs. Nutshell Playhouse is dedicated to making exciting professional theater available to all the children and families of Berkshire County
Don Jorden, Founder &
Nutshell Playhouse since, 2007
Don Jorden taught and performed with Teatro Studio and I Gesti di Roma throughout Europe for fifteen years before being invited to perform with Mummenschanz on Broadway. He directed the Pan Twilight Circus’s 1995 production Creatures of the Lawn and served as Artistic Director of the Pickle Family Circus. In addition Don held the position of Assistant Professor in the MFA Professional Actor Training Program at Ohio University for five years, and has taught as adjunct faculty at Smith College, Berkshire Community College, Shakespeare and Company, Barnard College and the Juilliard School. Don’s vast experiences are a gift to his young audiences and have shaped the interactive nature of the performances crafted by the Nutshell Playhouse ensemble today.
Nutshell Playhouse is honored to work with truly amazing talent. Our performers bring with them a vast variety of experiences, cultivating a truly dynamic and creative environment. Working with a simple theatrical set, our actors transform the performance space, beckoning the audience to experience a place where giant clams talk and ghosts come out of trunks. Within a landscape of sparse dialogue and lyrical movement, our actors travel along side imaginary creatures that are guided by music and often punctuated by the soft contours of shadow puppets.
Alexia Trainor has been acting with Nutshell Playhouse for the past six years. She is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Main Street Stage in North Adams and the founder of the Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe. She studied acting at Marymount Manhattan College and has been performing in and around the Berkshires for over 20 years. She currently teaches and directs theater at the BART charter school in Adams, MA.
Stefanie Lynx Weber is the founder and artistic director of the Creatures Of Habitat Physical Poetry Performance Project and Pittsfield City Hoopla. She is co-director of the performance ensemble Silver Swimmers (USA), was in the Commonwealth Tap Collective and has been a dancer with Caryn Heilman’s LiquidBody Dance for 6 years. She has worked with many organizations in and around the Berkshires, including Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Barrington Stage Company, Berkshire Opera Company, Simon’s Rock, Williams College, Berkshire Community College, Terpsichore Dance Studio, Lenox Community Center, Hudsons’ Operation Unite, East Harlem Union Settlement Association, Somerville’s ArtBeat, and Cambridge River Festival. Presently she is on the faculty of Community Access to the Arts, Berkshire Dance Theater, and Kinesphere Movement Arts Studio.
Mark Hohlstein has been seen on stage for many of Castle Hill Theater Company’s family oriented shows, playing the Frog Prince and the Donkey in “Bremen Town Musicians” among many other roles. He also designed and built many of troupe’s props and sets. Mark played Martha in the full production of John Lawson’s “Hurricane Hotel” at Simon's Rock College in 2013 and is currently playing the Wolf in the Scion Media Group’s 3D film “Little Red Riding Hood”. Mark has won two Massachusetts Cultural Council awards for his visual art and has studied animation and film.
Paul McNeil started performing improv with "It Might Be Funny" at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY. He has performed standup comedy at Seattle’s “Comedy Underground”, and acted in Tim Mele’s "Who Framed Jesus Christ?", Mamet's "The Water Engine", Moliere's "The Misanthrope", Shakespeare's "Much Ado About nothing", and Yasmin Rana’s “Blood Sky”. In the Berkshires, he has played with the Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe since 2012
Christopher Brophy has performed in countless shows for the Martha's Vineyard Playhouse as well as in the Tisbury Amphitheater with The Fabulists children’s' theatre troupe. He is an instructor and founding member of IMP All Things Theatre summer camp. He performed in Boston for SpeakEasy Stage Company, New Repertory Theatre, Boston Theatre Works, Theatre Espresso, Zeitgeist Theatre and Shakespeare Now! Since returning to the Berkshires, Chris has appeared in various shows for the Pittsfield Town Players and is about to embark on his third season with Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park. This June will bring the debut of his new comedy improv troupe The Whitiots, the in-house players for the Whitney Center for the Arts.